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Vistula reveals hidden treasures following drought

18th September 2012
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Record-low levels of water in the Vistula River, caused by this summer's drought, have revealed a treasure trove of historical artifacts that were previously hidden from view.

Among the numerous finds are intricately carved pieces of marble which formed parts of pillars, fountains, and stair cases. The masonry is believed to have lain undiscovered for over 350 years, after being stolen by 17th Century Swedish invaders who looted Polish castles. The Scandinavian invaders lost their haul when overloaded barges, which were being used to transport the goods to Gdańsk and then back to Sweden, sunk beneath the weight of the treasure.

The artifacts were taken during the so-called Swedish Deluge, a series of raids on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which took place between 1655 and 1660. During this period Warsaw was ransacked on numerous occasions and its population was reduced from 20,000 to just 2,000.

“Now we have evidence, the best material evidence of the Swedish invasion so far," Hubert Kowalski, deputy director of the University of Warsaw Museum, told Reuters.

But as well as these older finds, more recent historical relics from the capital's bloody past have been discovered as the Vistula's water has dropped to its lowest level in 200 years.

Unexploded World War II ordnance and pieces of Jewish gravestones have also been found on the river bed. The fragments of gravestone were used to pave the bottom of the river after it was damaged during the war.

Mr Kowalski said that some of the pieces can not be removed until water levels rise again.


From Warsaw Business Journal by David Ingham

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